Heart Health Grilling Tips
Summer is peak grilling season, with the warm weather and sunshine begging you to be outdoors, and the rising temps keeping you away from your oven, there’s nothing better than hitting the grill and enjoying your backyard or local park with friends. But when you’re dealing with heart problems or trying to eat a diet that focuses on cardiovascular health, the idea of big beef burgers, juicy steaks, and hot dogs can be a little intimidating. So, what do you do if you still want to enjoy the quintessential summer cooking method without giving up on your nutritional preferences? We’ve got a few heart-healthy grilling tips for you.
Steer Away from Red Meat
This is probably the least surprising of the tips we’ll offer, but if you’re aiming for heart health, it bears repeating (we know, we know, we’ve said it before). Avoid red meat when you’re planning your grilling menu. Steaks and burgers aren’t the only way to have a deliciously grilled spread. We recommend fish, which are rich in omega three fatty acids and other nutrients that contribute to better cholesterol and heart health, or chicken, a leaner animal-based protein option that can be flavored much the same way as those burgers. You can even do ground chicken and turkey if you’re still gunning for a burger but just don’t need the beef.
Get Picky About Cuts
Something you probably don’t spend a ton of time thinking about when you’re planning the menu is the cut of meat you’re choosing, but you should! Loins, “round,” and “choice/select” cuts are going to be your leanest when it comes to pork or red meat (if you must), so opt for those. The choice/select decision is an interesting one because many see “prime” and think that would be the best, but in actuality, choice and select cuts are leaner and offer great flavor. If heart health is an issue for you, we would recommend (again) to stay away from red meats and pork (which is often much fattier) entirely. If you are merely starting down the path of a more cardiovascular-healthy lifestyle and aren’t quite ready to give it all up at once, getting choosy about the cuts of meat you grill will help you take steps in the right direction.
Here’s the best tip of all – get some color on that grill! Heck, grill up a rainbow if you can. And yes, we’re talking about veggies. Slice up some bell peppers, red onion, leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and more and pop em in a foil pouch with your favorite seasonings and a drizzle of olive oil. Boom, a deliciously grilled veggie medley to accompany any meats or proteins you may have as a main dish. We also recommend serving leafy green salads or fruit salads as well. The more color from plant-based sources you can bring onto your plate (when you’re grilling or anytime, really), the better.
On the Side
If you’re using dressings and sauces, we recommend keeping them on the side and pre-portioning them, so you’re not over-using something that adds a lot of calories and little nutrients to your plate.
There are so many ways to keep grilling heart-healthy and delicious, but we encourage you to get creative – you know your favorite flavors and dishes – find heart-healthy ways to replicate them. If you love Asian cuisine, grill chicken skewers marinated in a hoisin sauce made with coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, things like that. Have a blast and feel good about the choices you’re preparing for your health.